J-Hope: BTS fans 'save' squirrels for K-pop star's birthday

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Red squirrelImage source, Katherine Wood
Image caption,
The endangered red squirrel is the UK's only native squirrel

K-pop star J-Hope from BTS has had Scottish red squirrels adopted in his name by fans for his 25th birthday.

The South Korean singer's British fans raised over £600 for the endangered species, while fans from around the world raised money for other charities.

The BTS army, as the group's fans are called, responded to J-Hope's call for birthday donations instead of gifts.

The singer reportedly donated £68,000 to ChildFund Korea for the upkeep of his former high school in Gwangju.

The wildlife group Saving Scottish Red Squirrels was approached by a British university student who fundraised enough to adopt 37 red squirrels - a quarter of the total red squirrel adoptions the charity had last year.

"J-Hope already knows about the red squirrel adoptions, he came across it in a Korean article," Lisa Ireland told the BBC.

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"J-Hope is often likened to a squirrel because he has cheeks that pop out when he eats," the 20-year-old said, after being inspired by other fans who had adopted a koala for BTS member RM for the same reason.

"This is the first time there's been an adoption in the name of a celebrity and someone as big as J-Hope," said Rory Syme from the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

Most people adopted one animal to mark weddings, birthdays and anniversaries, he said. "It's fantastic that fans want to celebrate J-Hope, but also support things like the Scottish Wildlife Trust."

The endangered red squirrels are the UK's only native squirrel, and their continued survival has been threatened by a growing number of grey squirrels, originally from the US.

Korean reports say at least 35 charitable projects by BTS fans have been started to honour J-Hope, whose real name is Jung Ho-seok.

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